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Tree Botanics

Putaputaweta Previous

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Other Names: (Carpodetus serratus) = Marbleleaf

Member of the Escalloniaceae family, the putaputaweta is a common species occurring across all 3 main islands, presenting as a small - medium-sized tree reaching heights of up to 10m, rather flat-topped with a smallish diameter trunk of up to 30cm only.  It is found in coastal to montane forests, besides streams (it is particularly suited to regeneration in close proximity to fresh water) from sea-level ascending to up to 1000m.  The pale greyish-white bark is roughened. Young plants have an open crown with zig-zagging branches and smaller leaves.  Leaves are 2.5  - 6cm in length X 1.5 - 3cm wide, and have a light and dark green mottled marbling on their surface, hence the common name. The margins have small, sharp teeth around them. The distinctive small flowers are white & star-like appearing in panicles (a branched cluster of flowers in which the branches are racemes - an inflorescence having stalked flowers arranged singly along an elongated unbranched axis, as in the lily of the valley) about December, with 5-6 petals, approximately 5 mm in diameter, with the many panicles broad & flat at 5cm in length. Fruits are globose (rounded) & are purple-black when ripe & can take up to 12 months to ripen on the tree. Putaputaweta is also known as marble-leaf & was formally known as 'bucket-of-water' tree because the freshly cut timbers were so sappy it would not burn easily.